Focus on the Family Broadcast   >>   All Episodes

Moving From Loneliness to Intimacy in Your Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Original Air Date 02/17/2014

Get Social and Listen

Psychologist David Clarke offers several practical ideas for couples to improve their marital intimacy, from regularly scheduled talk times, to spiritual leadership and being accountable to others. (Part 1 of 2)

Listen online, or purchase the download.

Episode Transcript


John Fuller: On today’s Focus on the Family, we’ll investigate a ... a paradox and that is, often people get married to avoid loneliness, but many times, especially women experience loneliness within that marriage. And we’re gonna talk about how that’s possible and what you can do about it. Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller and Jim to uh ... illustrate some of the emotion that many feel in regard to loneliness in marriage, we have these comments.


Woman #1: My husband, Ben is into everything. He has a ball game or a meeting nearly every single night of the week. And then if he’s home, he’s on the phone talking over strategies for the next game or meeting. It’s like he has time for everyone except for me.

Woman #2: If friends were enough, I wouldn’t have gotten married. I want my husband. I wanthimto be with me, to share my life on a daily basis.

Woman #3: I was in the grocery store checkout line and the man in front of me, all he did was just glance back and smile. He looked so kind. I don’t know what happened, but when I got back to my car, I burst into tears. I guess I finally had to admit how lonely I felt.

End of Excerpt

Jim Daly: Hm. Uh ... you can hear it in those descriptions and uh ... to be in a marriage, but to feel utter loneliness has to be a terrible place. And we want to talk about that today. It is amazing how many people um ... identify with this situation.Psychology Todaymagazine said that 63 percent of the people who report feelings of loneliness are currentlymarried. I mean, that’s incredible. Um ... I even said to Jean, “Sometimes do you feel lonely in our marriage?” I mean, that’s a pretty daring question for a husband…

John: It is.

Jim: And she said, “Yeah.” You know, “Sometimes you’re busy and we don’t get that time to talk and communicate emotionally.” And I think every one of us can fall prey to the hectic pace of life and forget perhaps the most important people around us and we want to talk about that today.

John: Well, we have some good news about, as I said, how you can deal with this in a proactive and a very positive way, thanks to our special guest here who’s joined us today.


Jim: And Dr. David Clarke, welcome back to Focus on the Family.

Dr. David Clarke: It is great to be here.

Jim: You know, there was another stat that caught my attention, too, Dave and that was 4 out of 5Christianwomen say they experience that kind of loneliness. Um ... that’s 80 percent. I mean, that’s a big number. So, the point of all that is, it’s not just the non-believing community that has these feelings of loneliness, but those of us that are Christians, as well. What’s happening at the macro level? What’s happening in the big picture? Why such feelings of loneliness?

David: Uh ... I think it’s just the nature of the beast. Marriage breaks down over time. You have the initial infatuation. That gets you married. We love each other. Everything you say is brilliant. I’m so connected.

And then just the routines of life, children come along, the chores, the guy’s building his career. Now add to that, we don’t know what we’re doing to create intimacy. People don’t have the skills, [the] breakdown of the family. Focus is fighting that, of course, what we’re doin’ today, but the breakdown is so significant, people don’t have the tools anymore. Guys have never had the tools.

Jim: And really, the time, but you’ve written this book,Married...But Lonely. I think that title, I mean, when I have uh ... in preparation for this show, simply mentioned that to females, they get it. They connect with that title. I think us men, we’re goin’, “What? Of course, we’re not lone ... we’re married!” There’s two of us. Uh ... what did you see happening that gave you the clarity, even for that title,Married...But Lonely?

David: Well, these little stories we heard just a few minutes ago from these ladies, I have heard a million times at my seminars, in my therapy office, oh, just one after the other, good solid Christian women. I am so lonely. I love my husband. He’s a good guy. He’s not in serious sin and ... and he loves me,but... and then they go into what these ladies just said. We’re not together a lot. There’s no real intimacy. I’m dying inside. And the key is, they’re not letting the husband know that. The guy has no clue. He’s perfectly happy. So, when that woman hits the wall and leaves him, he is the most stunned guy on earth.

John: Hm.

David: Wh ... [are] you kidding me? We used to watch shows together on the couch. He doesn’t get it. And by then it’s too late. I’m tryin’ to catch these ladies sooner, rather than later.

Jim: And in that definition, I mean, we really are talking about an epidemic, aren’t we? When we say 60, 70, 80 percent of people are encountering anything, that’s... that’sa lot of people. And what do we do? I mean, how do we equip men to be better listeners, better ... uh ... I gotta ask you this question. Are we expecting too much out of men?

David: You know, I don’t think so and that’s the good news. (Laughter) If a guy loves his wife and he has an IQ of over 100--most men do--he can learn. I had to learn. I’m a clinical psychologist. I didn’t have a clue. Ten years into our marriage “the blonde” is saying to me, “I’m lonely. This isn’t working.”

Jim: Now you refer to your wife as “the blonde”--

David: Yeah, just--

Jim: --the blonde.

David: --so people can catch--

John: And she’s good with that.

David: --that. She is great with that. (Laughter) It’s been 25 years, she ... I’ve never said it different and she would tell me (Laughter), believe me.

Ten years in, we’re ... three ... you’ve given me three wonderful kids and ... and um ... one’s coming and we were just kinda losing it. Uh ... still loving each other, but not “in love.” So, you have to get the man’s attention. If the man ... get his attention, lead him through a series of steps like I cover in the book, he will learn. He’ll start to lead. Everything will click.

Jim: Well, and you talk about um ... you know, emphasizing good communication in marriage. You mentioned some of those things that detract from good communication, such as kids. Wh ... paint the picture in your counseling practice, what are the general themes that you see that prevent or at least get in the way of good communication?

David: We’ve got male-female differences. First of all, guys clam up. We don’t like to talk personally. We’ll talk about sports, the lawn mower is ... needs fixing, uh ... kid issues, career stuff. We don’t want to get into the personal things. We’re not made that way.

Jim: Well, okay.

David: It’s not our thing.

Jim: But why? Wh ... why are we made differently? What is preventing us from doing that?

David: I think it’s just genetic. This is what God has done to us (Laughing). Now He’s got a master plan, because if we work together and let the woman actually teach us, ‘cause she has many more skills interpersonally that we will ... ever will have. She’s got a Ph.D. in emotional intimacy and spiritual intimacy very often. We have like a third-grade education. So, we have to let the woman kind of guide us, teach us. And then we come together, we get it. I think it’s just genetic.

Plus we’re into control as men. When Sandy asks me a question and I feel a little pressured by her, I just clam up. Now you talkin’ to me? This is mywife. I love her. I’d throw myself in front of a bus for her, but I will not talk to her personally. Well, it’s crazy. I’ve had to learn that’s what she really needs.

Jim: How does a guy take that first step? I mean, you go home tonight and say, “Honey, I need to talk to you.” And then you’re stuck, like ... because you don’t know--

John: That ... that--

Jim: --what’s--

John: --strikes fear--

Jim: --the next question?

John: --into every guy listening’s (Laughter)--

David: Right.

John: --heart right then.

David: Exactly. Oh! I tell guys, look ... and I do this to this day. I’ve got a pad that I carry everywhere I go--in my car. I got three pads--in my car, at my office, at home. And I will write down things that happened to me during the day. If I don’t do that, I got nothing!

I come home without the pad, nothing to say. We have a couple talk time and say, “How was your day, Honey?” “I don’t know.” I’m tellin’ the God’s truth. I don’t know. I’ve forgotten. I have no memory.

But if I have written a few things down, then I have a little bit of material. Guys can use their phones, electronic devices whatever. I’m just a dinosaur; I use a pad. But Sandy wants to know, first of all, I thought about her. Dave’s written some stuff down.

Jim: So, that’s what’s being communicated there, the fact--

David: Right.

Jim: --that you thought enough of her to write something down to talk about tonight.

David: Nice vibe. Even if it’s, I bought batteries at the store for ... you know, on sale for 5 bucks (Laughing). Okay, it’s a start. But I ... she knows I care about her. But I’ve gotten better with this. I know what she wants. She wants personal things, emotions, anger, frustration, uh ... memories that come into my mind. Guys, this happens to guys during the day, but it’s just whoo! It’s gone if you don’t jot it down.

Jim: Now given the differentiation that we talked about between Christians and non-Christians, you would think that our walk with the Lord, our practices, our disciplines, reading Scripture, understanding what the Lord has done in male and femaleness, we’d better understand this. But you’re saying that basically there’s no difference statistically ... about women--Christian or non-Christian--that feel lonely in their marriages. Why is that? It sounds like we utterly fail.

David: Oh, we are. And sad to say, many Christians and pastors, the Christian community are on board with this problem in trying to get their attention, ‘cause the wife is told ... I see this in booksall the timeand from pastors from the pulpit. If you just love your husband, uh ... treat him well, meet his needs, then he’s gonna turn around and just love you back the way you really need to be loved.

Absolutely false. He’s a guy. He doesn’t know how anyway. He doesn’t know there’s a problem. And if you keep loving him, he’ll think everything’s fine. He will never get it. You have to get the man’s attention. You gotta sit down and say, “Honey, I’m not happy in our marriage. Here’s why. Let’s change it.”

Jim: But some women struggle because they’re offended by that. If I could express that, I think that’s fair, that if I’ve gotta say it that bluntly, then he doesn’t love me. So, it’s kind of a Catch-22. I mean, if that’s how a guy is wired, but yet a woman is offended by the wiring, what is a couple to do? How are they gonna break that impasse?

David: I say, “Ma’am, I hate to be the one that’ll break this to you; you’ve married a man.” (Laughter) He’s sitting here and this is ... I’m the sa ... and I’ll say, “I’m the same way.” You think I’m sensitive? You think I’m kind? You think I’m naturally good at this? I’m not. If I could bring my wife in, she’s my secretary now, I could bring her in, she’d tell you.

So you have to ... I have to get women to speak up, ‘cause they’re not speaking up. When they finally speak up, it’s “I’m leaving you. Uh ... the divorce papers are coming. I’m done.”

Jim: Which is tragic.

David: It’s awful.

Jim: Dave, talk about that. Play that through for us though. Let’s do a little role playing and um ... you counsel thousands of couples, so just pick one in your mind without naming them. But what does that look like? Um ... rather than getting to the divorce court level, um ... what could a woman say to her husband to get his attention? What can a man do to respond affirmatively? Play that uh ... discussion through for us.

David: The woman’s got to tell the man, “Look, Honey, I ... I want to have a meeting with you in three days. It’s about our marriage. It’s gonna be very serious. In fact, it’s extremely serious and I want ... the kids aren’t gonna be in the house when we have this meeting.”

And you set a time and that will get his attention. A decent guy, it’s like, wow! This is serious. If it’s over dinner or if we’re playing ball in the yard, he won’t get the message.

So, we have that meeting and at that meeting, that’s when she, dead across says ... and she’s got prayer support and she’s got people praying for her and she’s ... and she might even read it. It’s a very brief conversation. I’m not happy in this marriage. You’re not meeting my needs. Frankly, we’re both at fault here. I’m not throwing any stones. I’ve not made my needs clear. I’m doing that now. I have a book and I have a plan. Will you join me in changing this marriage? No, “I love yous.” No “Gosh, you’re a great guy, but I’m a little upset.” See, men will only hear that and they won’t change.

You gotta get a man with a shovel to the head, metaphorically speaking, of course. And the ... my theory is--I’ve never seen this [un]proven--a decent man who does love his wife, okay, he’ll change. It’ll be tough at first, but you ... “I ... I can’t believe it. I’m shocked. I don’t know, but if this is what you’re telling me, then I’ll make these changes” and he’ll join her in the process.

Jim: You define that as “intimacy avoider” — that most men--85 percent of men--areIA’s.

David: Yep.

Jim: (Laughing) What does that mean. I mean, you’ve touched on it, but how are John and IIA’s?

John: Hey wait a minute. You ... we can talk about you (Laughter), but uh ...

Jim: Yeah ... no, I want to bring you into this.

David: Oh, I didn’t mean, John. (Laughter) I was talkin’ about you, Jim. (Laughter)

Jim: I’m callin’ Dena.

David: Look, I’m one. I think it’s by nature. Uh ... genetically, we’re made that way uh ... by God and then by training and cultural education, that’s the problem.

Most young guys grow up in a home when they see their dad and of course, they model after their dad, he doesn’t talk personally. He doesn’t romance mom. He doesn’t share anything. It ... they never see him cry or break down or get personal. And so, hey, that’s my guy. I’m gonna be just like that.

We watch the movies. People are being killed. They need to be killed. These are terrorists. But you know, there’s no ... no romance or softness of any kind. So, we learn pretty early on, that’s not what we do.

Well, you get married and the woman doesn’t realize that in infatuation and in dating, because nobody knows what the heck’s going on, we are just in love. Whoa! And then this is gonna be fantastic. No, it’s not gonna be, ‘cause he doesn’t know how to share. That’s the only reason the woman is marrying him. I love you. I ... there’s physical chemistry here, but I want to know you. I want to share your life. I want you to talk to me. He’s not gonna do that. If she knew that, she’d never marry him. But--

Jim: And again--

David: --she’ll find out.

Jim: --you’re defining 85 percent of men, according to the surveys, that we have this intimacy avoidance “gene” (Laughing) or component. But how do we learn? Because men can also move ... and all of us as human beings--men or women--move to comfort. Comfort usually ... I don’t want to use the word “laziness.” I guess you would (Laughing).

David: I probably would.

Jim: But ... but we ... we don’t want to work hard. Um ... you know, we work hardout there. We work hard at our vocation. We’ll put our extra time in. We’ll do the extra report for the boss. We’ll do that dinner that, man, I really don’t want to do, but you know what? It could get me the promotion. We’re willing to put in the time for those things, yet in somethingthis important, your very relationship with your spouse may be on the line, you know what? It’s just so much work. Why do we think that way?

David: Well, it’s a guy thing. It ... we like to be good at certain things and the guy knows, I’m not good at this. This is not my arena, not my expertise. It’s gonna be embarrassing to me. I’m gonna feel insecure and so, I’d just rather not. And so, if the woman will kind of put up with it and tolerate it and there’s physical intimacy and there’s meals made and we’re together, I can really be in denial about how unhappy she is. That’s why the ... I think the woman has to be the one to break through. The guy’s not gonna get it. He will live 40 years, 50 years of marriage, die, he’s in a graveyard, she’s released, never having had intimacy or she’s gonna divorce him or just stay miserable. So, she’s gotta say, we have to make a change.

Jim: I ... I’ve gotta ask this question. It may sound a little out of place, but a lot of couples, particularly men, will say, oh, we talk all the time.

David: Right.

Jim: You know, we’re talkin’ all the time. Uh ... they don’t even know what you’re talkin’ about right now. What does “intimate conversation” sound like? I mean--

David: Yeah.

Jim: --we did talk about the mower. We did talk ... hey, we talked schedule. In fact, we talked about where the kids need to be tomorrow.

David: Yeah, because we’re--

Jim: --and who’s gonna drive ‘em there.

David: --we’re remodeling the bathroom or whatever. Exact ... that’s not what the womanwants!

Jim: But tell us what is it that she’s looking for? What kind of conversation does she want?

David: She wants to talk about how you feel about her, how the marriage is going. These are just ... guys are running for the hills right now. Are you kidding me? How are we doing? Gosh, what could I do different in this marriage? How do you feel about me? I want emotions. I want you to talk about your day in such a way that I ... you kinda guide me through it. Men don’t talk that way. And let’s say a close friend ... we’ve been to two funerals in a week. And it’s really been tough. And we love the people involved and very difficult and loved on the families. These ... this had led to some great conversations for Sandy and I.

Our own mortality, ch ... people we know that are ill. Our parents are struggling in some areas. We’re talking. It’s sh ... I’ve learned that. Now 20 years ago, 10 years ago, uh-uh, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.

John: Hm.

David: I would’ve said, yeah, I went to the funeral; that was tough. I’m done. Don’t want to talk about that stuff.

Jim: ‘Cause we close down.

David: Oh, totally. This is sensitive and nasty and difficult. I’d rather not. Sandy isreallyinterested in talking about those issues, of course, being a woman. And so, now we’re so much closer, ‘cause we’ve talked about those things. You can take any event, funerals were a bit dramatic. It could be a wedding, could be anywhere you go. You see a movie. You don’t see a movie to see a mov ... a guy thinks ... he thinks .... sees a movie just to see the movie. No, no, no, no, dummy! Moron! I’m the same way. You see the movie to talk with your wife about the movieafterwards. That’s the whole point!

And it’s not even the mov ... it’s what it reminds you of. Boy, that couple, that one scene reminded me of when we were dating, you know, back and we were at the Del Coronado in San Diego and we were on the beach and we snuck in and used their Jacuzzi. Ha, we weren’t staying there. I mean, just stuff like that (Laughter), not that, that happened. (Laughter) But things that ...

Jim: Talking from experience here. (Laughter)

John: Well, we are listening ... some great wit and wisdom from Dr. David Clarke on today’s Focus on the Family hosted by Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller. Stop see more about our guest, his book and some practical things that you can take away if you can’t stay with us for the rest of the conversation here.

Okay, so we’ve been talkin’ about stereotypes. It feels to me, like there’s a lot of stereotyping going on here and there may be some guys thinkin’, yeah, but I ... I ... to Jim’s point, I really do this. Are there different degrees ... I mean, is there a spectrum of loneliness in a marriage? And there are seasons, too, aren’t there?

David: Yeah, that’s true and that’s part of the dialogue I want the couple to start having. You know, we’re close at these times. We’re not close at these times. Uh ... the children are getting in the way. I’m trying to build my career. It’s for the family, but it’s gotten in the way. So, there are seasons you go through. As long as you’re honest about those seasons, you can kinda navigate and get right back on track.

Jim: Well, in fact, in your book,Married...But Lonely, you talk about uh ... a husband transformation strategy. Now this is a ... about like, “for $19.99 you, too can have (Laughter) a new husband, by the husband transformation strategy.” What are you drivin’ at there?

David: We’ve gotta teach this man skills. First, we have to get his attention. I’m not happy. And the woman will admit, I’m part of the problem. I’ve not shared my needs. And so, we go through a series of steps where she shares her needs very clearly.

He reads chapters in the book. He only has to read three chapters of the book — 5, 6 and 7, about what God says tohusbands. It’s not even what the wife said, it’s whatGodsays about meeting the woman’s needs. Well, God would know. He reads those chapters. He starts to realize, I’m falling short. Yes, you are. Let’s work together on these issues.

And so, it just goes step, by step, by step. She’s gonna clean out her resentments, because a woman who has a lot of resentments that [have] built up, even with a good man she loves, is not gonna be able to accept his change even if hedoeschange. So, we have to clean those resentments out, not fun to do.

I’m not the “fun therapist.” Anyway ... so, we move through that material. And then she forgives him and then she’s open, plus as she shares her resentments and he talks with her through those things, he knows what her real issues are, ‘cause she’s nailing it every time she talks abouta resentment.

Jim: David, you must find a bit of humor when you read the Scriptures as a therapist, someone trained and you come across, like in Proverbs where it says, “It’s better to live (Chuckling) on the corner of your roof than in the house with a contentious woman.” That’s the paraphrase that--

David: Yeah.

Jim: --comes to mind. You’re kind of describing what the person writing that Proverb was talkin’ about. It’s this conflict. Man, I’d rather not be in this house. I’m gonna go live on the roof.

David: Yeah.

Jim: Uh ... it’s odd, but do you laugh at some of those Scriptures?

David: You know, I do, ‘cause I see it in my office every day of the week, Monday through Friday. And ... and you’re gonna live with a contentious woman if shedoesn’texpress her resentments, if she’s not dead honest with you.

All the resentments make a woman who’s cold, who’s mean, who’s sarcastic, who will pay you back. (Laughing) Oh, it’s terr ... and she doesn’t want to; she’s just going to. If she’ll clean that out in a firm, but gracious way-- you’re not kickin’ the door in going, “All right, buddy, you and me.” You are firm;you’re loving, but you’re gracious and respectful. You’re not just mean and sarcastic about it.

Jim: Okay. Let’s give a little clue here. You talk about uh ... a man’s density (Laughing), you know, but that we’re dense generally. Give us some of the telltale signs of resentment. If your wife is doingX, then you’re in trouble. Did ... fill in theX.

David: You go to kiss her in the morning and you get the cheek. This is a clue. Um ... you come home and ... and she’s made the meal and you ask her to sit with you, as many men do. “Gosh, I’d like to watch a show with you, Honey. Could you sit with me on the couch?” She doesn’t do so; she has other things to do.

It will really hit you in the bedroom. Oh, that’s where the man will really ... even a dense man will start to realize. She will avoid intimacy. She will not be with you uh ... physically. She will ... and when she is, she’s absolutely not there.

Um ... she will say things, even in public that are kinda, not out and out sarcastic and mean, but there’s a tinge to it. There’s an edge to it. Um ... she will really focus on the kids. She will spend very little time with you. I mean, this is what’s happening. It may ... takes men maybe months, evenyearsto figure it out, ‘cause the man will go, “Well, I ... I don’t really get it anyway and I don’t really need intimacy anyway, so I’m ... I’ll just go wr ... get wrapped up in my job or sports.” And so, they’re just really pulling apart.

Jim: Is it ever too late for a couple to get on the right track?

David: Never, ever too late. I say that to every couple I see. I’m like a dog on a bone. ‘Cause one person wants divorce; one doesn’t. I gotta work on the one that does ... that wants divorce. No, this can change. If we know Jesus, if everybody in this room knows Jesus and wedo, right? Right? We’ll get through.

Jim: Now, I’ve got to imagine that those folks feel hopeless. I mean, they’ve been arguing, perhaps like you said, for years. Uh ... to say that ... I hear it, but how do you take that first step? What are you gonna do to begin to remedy this deficit that you’ve perhaps had for years in your relationship?

David: Well, Dr. Clarke always has a plan. (Laughter) And it begins ... and so, people will know that. I’m gonna take you through a series of steps, maybedragyou through and you have to do it my way or I won’t see you. But we’ll start with prayer right there in my office. Now we know God here. We’re gonna pr ... I’m gonna pray for you right now. I may ha ...even have them pray. We’re gonna right now give this to God and we’re gonna ask Him for His help.

And I’ll say, if God was here in this room,and He is— let’s picture Him sitting in this chair, what do you think He would say about your marriage? Well,they knowwhat He’d say. He’d want us to ... they hang their head. He’d want us to fix it. Yes, He would.

Well, knowing that, let’s ask for His help and we start spiritually bonding right away. I have them start praying the first week together. They aren’t even talking, let alone praying. I don’t care if the prayer is as simple as, “Dear God, our marriage is in trouble. I have no hope here, but I’m asking, would You help it.” Just that simple prayer is powerful and it will give them hope, the slightest sliver of hope. [The] tiniest sliver of hope can make all the difference.

Jim: Uh ... when you look at our culture, this is a bigger question, but uh ... you see the stats that are so similar. I think the divorce rate is slightly lower in the Christian community, maybe by 10 points or something like that, not dramatically lower.

David: No.

Jim: But it does send a signal generally in the Christian community and the world that’s watching, when our divorce rate is running 25, 30, 35 percent. There’s a problem there, because um ... the world’s not seeing our faith and our commitment to Christ play out. Do you appeal to that larger vision of the fact that ... and I’ve said it very often, our marriages are a witness to the world.

David: Oh, by all means. On a micro level, when I talk to a couple. I say, I ... now we’re gonna get through this. You’re gonna heal. It’ll be a great testimony. Now God wants you happy and for the sake of your kids anyway, serving in the church, glorifying Him. But what He really wants, too, if for you to ... other people that don’t know Jesus, to be looking on and go, “Wow! How could this have happened?”

So yes, I deal with that in the book, too. We’ve got to change this whole cultural swing. Satan is winning and he’s winning big. Christians now--they have no biblical reason. “I’m unhappy; you haven’t met my needs,” is not a biblical reason to get divorced. But women especially, are walking away.

And so, I’m trying to stop that. They don’t have to if the man would really change. But a lady will love a man with every ounce of her heart until she’s finally ... and not having honest ... being honest about her needs or “I’m very unhappy,” until the last day. And then when that last (Sound of snap) ounce is gone, boom! I call it hitting the wall. She’s done. And you literally cannot ... other than an act of God, get that woman back. She’s through.

Jim: In fact, um know, “the greying of divorce,” as the media calls it, there’s been many stories written about that, that once the kids are grown and on their way, um ... couples are looking at each other, thinking there’s nothing more that we have in common. Our kids are gone--

David: Right.

Jim: --and I’m done. And unfortunately, it’s often women that are coming to that conclusion. So, what you’re saying is even backed up in what’s happening in the culture today statistically and through anecdotal stories. Um ... you hear a lot about Christian marriages-- 30, 40 years--

David: Yeah.

Jim: --that they’ve been married and they’re ending. And I ... I’ve even talked to Jean about that to say, you know, how desperate they must be. They don’t have a lot of life left. I mean, not to be discouraging here, but maybe 15, 20 years of quality life left and you’re dumping what you’ve invested in for 30, 40, 50 years? It doesn’t make sense to me. But is that loneliness so deep and so troubling, that they’re willing to leave at 60, 65--

David: Yeah.

Jim: --because they want--

David: It’s that bad.

Jim: --something better?

David: I’m seeing more and more of that in my practice.We never used to lose those couples--never. And now we’re losing them by the scores in major churches and it’s so discouraging for the younger couples. That ripple effect is massive. And I think you’re right; it’s somiserable, that I would rather live alone, break my kids’ hearts, shatter mygrandkids’hearts. I don’t care. I’m so unhappy; I’ve got to ... got to go for the brass ring. I’d rather livealone. Some of these folks will find other partners, but many won’t even remarry, but they’re good with that!

Well, that’s tragic. My point is and God’s point is, really, hopefully, I think it’s my point hopefully is His point, too — No; I don’t want you to stay in misery; I want you to turn this boat around.


John: David Clarke has been our guest on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly and I’m John Fuller.

Jim: John, that was part one of a very insightful conversation we had with Dr. Clarke and an important reminder, especially there at the end, that we cannot take our marriage or our spouse for granted. If you have problems in your relationship, get help and get it quickly! That’s why Focus on the Family is here; we want to strengthen your marriage and rescue those couples who are in trouble. That’s why we have our counseling team and offer tools like Hope Restored, that intensive counseling experience for couples who really are on the brink of giving up. We’ve shared this before, but Hope Restored is making a big difference in the lives of these couples. So there’s hope for your marriage if you’ll contact us about getting the help you need.

John: And our number is 800-232-6459, 800-232-6459 or you can find details at You’ll find information aboutDr. Clarke’s book,Married...but Lonely, and how you can get a CD or download of today’s program and we’ll include in the digital file the program from next time as well.

Jim: Maybe you know someone who would benefit from David’s book and if you can send a financial gift of any amount, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of Married... But Lonely as our way of saying thank you for helping us strengthen and rescue marriages literally around the world.

John: And the place to donate is or call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.

Coming up next time, you’ll hear more from Dr. Clarke as he returns to help you better communicate with your spouse.


Dr. David Clarke: I can give her 30 minutes of concentrated time where she can talk and express and throw everything against the wall and see what sticks. And certain things I’ll respond to, certain things I won’t. But we can develop some great conversations. I can’t do two hours.

End of Teaser

  • Featured Product

    Essentials of Romance Marriage Bundle

    Focus on the Family

    Romance is an essential part of a healthy marriage and a gift from God. It isn't always easy to pursue with all the distractions in life, though. We put together the Essentials of Romance Marriage Bundle just for that reason.

    Buy Now
  • Featured Initiative

    Have You Lost Hope in Your Marriage?

    Focus on the Family

    For couples in crisis - you can still put the pieces of your marriage back together with Hope Restored.

    Read more
  • Featured Article

    Married to a Secret Agent

    Dr. David Clarke

    Your Secret Agent is intimacy-challenged. He or she may have no trouble talking about superficial things. But he or she closes down when it comes to any personal, below-the-surface conversation.

    Read more
  • Featured Article

    What Marriage Alone Can't Do

    For all the wonderful and holy things marriage is, here are three things marriage alone does not do for us.

    Read more
More Episode Resources


Dr. David Clarke

View Bio

Dr. David Clarke is a licensed psychologist with a full-time practice in Florida, where he does extensive counseling with individuals and families. He earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Western Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary in Portland, Ore. Dr. Clarke has authored nearly a dozen books including Cinderella Meets the Cave Man, The Six Steps to Emotional Freedom and A Marriage After God's Own Heart. He and his wife, Sandy, have four children. Learn more about Dr. Clarke by visiting his website: